June 1, 2019

Three American Religions Confused with Christianity Recently I have been examining and critiquing an American religion called Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD). I have argued that many Americans who think they are Christians (disciples of Jesus Christ) are actually believing in and practicing a false religion. Anyone who knows the New Testament and Christian history well can immediately recognize how false MTD is. Of course there is truth in it; that is not the issue. Almost no religion is wholly false…. Read more

May 28, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 3 If you have not yet read parts 1 and 2 of this series, please do it now—before reading and especially before responding to this essay which is about the “Deism” in Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD). Deism has many faces. Smith and Dean used it in a rather informal ways not directly related to intellectual-religious history. Here I will follow their lead—instead of using “deism” to designate a particular group of religious… Read more

May 25, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 2 If you have not, please read Part 1 of this 3 part series. Here, in Part 2, I describe my understanding of “therapeutic” in “MTD.” First, however, I want to remind readers about something many seem either not to know or forget. Here, in blog posts like this, I am definite NOT describing ALL churches or ALL Christians. I am describing a trend of a type within American Christianity. Please don’t… Read more

May 22, 2019

The American Religion: Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism (MTD) Part 1 Several years ago sociologists of religion Kenda Dean and Christian Smith announced their discovery of the religion of most American Christian teenagers in Almost Christian (Oxford University Press, 2010). They labeled it “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism.” During the years since their book’s publication much discussion has surrounded their proposal. With apologies to them and acknowledging a debt to them, here, in a three part series, I would like to dissect and discuss… Read more

May 19, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 3 (Final) Before reading this blog essay you really ought to read Parts 1 and 2. In them I lay out my credentials for explaining the contemporary meaning of “cult” in Christian theology and religious studies (apart from its technical us for any form of worship). It is simply not possible to avoid the word “cult” altogether or even to offer a very simple definition. I am asked on a regular basis… Read more

May 16, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a Cult? Part 2 If you haven’t read Part 1, please do that now. Some, perhaps much, of what I write here in Part 2 assumes knowledge from Part 1. Before Jonestown the word “cult” was used in America almost exclusively of highly unorthodox religious groups. Its main meaning was theological—although behavior came into view to help label a group a cult when groups like the Unification Church (“Moonies”) and the Children of God (“the… Read more

May 13, 2019

What Makes a Religious Group a “Cult?” Part 1 One of the questions I am asked most often is whether a specific religious church is a cult. Most often the questioner is not satisfied with my answer. That’s because they want a simple “yes” or “no” and, is so often the case in matters religious (and other matters), there is usually no such simple answer. And a big part of that is the change in the meaning of the word… Read more

May 10, 2019

A Great Evangelical Theologian to Read: Donald G. Bloesch   Very few, if any theologians have influenced me as profoundly as the late Donald G. Bloesch (d. 2010). Fortunately, many of his books are still in print or readily available through used book resellers on line. I realize that many Christians who are deeply interested in theology cannot avail themselves of a formal theological education. For you I strongly recommend that you read Bloesch’s books. Here I will mention a… Read more

May 6, 2019

“Womb of All Creation Flowing?” Progressive Christian Feminism Today? Far be it from me, a man, to critique feminism. That’s not a personal confession; it’s what I’ve been told by both women and men. Namely, that, as a man, I have no right to critique feminism. I simply don’t buy it. I think men and women on this planet are interdependent and both sexes have the right to ask questions and critique as well as support the other. As a… Read more

May 3, 2019

Whom to Blame for the Thin Gruel that Is Most of American Christianity Today? Over the past several decades many of us in the evangelical theological community have noticed and talked among ourselves about what I call the “thin gruel” of contemporary evangelical Christianity. What I am talking about could also be called the “dumbing down” of contemporary evangelical Christianity and its shallowness. Of course, this complaint is not really new; theologians have always complained about this phenomenon of “thin”… Read more

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